Snail mail is here to stay.

An executive I know sends a personal note every time he has contact with a client, a friend, a business acquaintance. Every time. Overkill? Perhaps. But how many times do you receive a personal note in the mail anymore? Sure, it takes time to jot an email, but a personal note is just… well, more personal.

In this age of speed marketing, it’s easy to forget our old friend snail mail as a way to communicate with customers.

Advertising Age reports that “not only are old-school direct-marketing channels like the telephone and snail mail here to stay, the latest report from the Direct Marketing Association on response rates finds that in many cases they are more effective than buzzed-about digital channels.” Here are more excerpts from the report:

“The survey found that although direct-mail response rates have dipped, they remain well above those for digital channels. Direct-mail response rates have decreased from 4.37% in 2003 to an average response rate of 3.40% today. That said, they have remained fairly stable since 2010, when the DMA’s last survey showed average rates of 3.42%.

“Even though response rates haven’t risen, the report shows that direct mail is 10 to 30 times more effective than email, and other digital channels have similar low rates. To quote the report, “for every 1,000 existing customers receiving a direct-mail piece, on average, 34 will respond . For email, the average response — measured by taking the click-through rate and multiplying the conversion per click — is 0.12%.”

That means that only 1 customer out of 1,000 would follow the email solicitation through to sale.

The continued effectiveness of direct mail has a lot to do with the quality of data and the ability to target mail more effectively, said Yory Wurmser, director-marketing and media insights at the DMA. “The future of direct mail lies in that [data], but the quality of the response for direct mail also indicates that direct mail is not disappearing,” he said. “It’s not the situation you had with newspaper advertising where it just fell off a cliff. It’s probably stabilizing instead of continuing a steep decline.”

So the next time you consider your communication options, don’t be too quick to dismiss direct mail. Email may be faster and cheaper, but snail mail just feels more… personal.

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